When I was young I flicked
my father’s flimsy earlobes

as if they were fat little bells,
and I was happy.

Then one day I stopped.
Or he left. I don’t know enough

about the order of things
to say which came first.

The smallest force
creates a chain of events

we shackle to the ankle of our futures.
You’ve heard this, too:

the monarch’s wings, delicate
to the point of nonexistence,

breath by breath causes
a microburst across the world.

How much worse the damage then
caused by the whip tip

of a finger
stinging and stinging a father?

Our ignorance often
accelerates us.

So much of what we know
of motion

propelled by what we don’t know
about impact. Newton

was born three months after
his father died.

Everything the scientist learns
amounts to a speck

of black pepper
reacting against his father’s teeth,

those small canvases
of absence.


⊡ ⊡ ⊡

Michael Schmeltzer earned his MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop. His honors include numerous Pushcart Prize nominations, the Gulf Stream Award for Poetry, and the Blue Earth Review Flash Fiction Prize. He runs amok on staff at A River & Sound Review and his work can be found in Rattle, [PANK], Vinyl, and Mid-American Review, among others. You can find him on Twitter at @mschmeltzer01.